Limerick Street Art

I need your help with my little project. I’m looking to snap & map all the street art in Limerick.

So far I’ve got  6 10 but I’m certain there are more dotted around the city (like on Sexton Street). If you know of one let me know and I’ll pedal around to snap & map it 🙂

Update: Lots more on drawout.ie

Get in touch I’m @skehillr on Twitter.

 

Mountain Biking with Ironmen

I did something daft this weekend. I headed off to the Ballyhoura mountain bike trails with a guy who just completed the ring of Kerry on a bicycle (Iano), a guy who also completed the ring of Kerry by bicycle and THEN proceeded to cycle home (which is Galway btw!) and another guy who does Ironmen competitions. My 16k (back and forth) commute pales in comparison to what these guys do! Needless to say they were all fitter than I and very used to cycling. The only other person who hadn’t done an ironman or a ring of Kerry was the ironman’s girlfriend but she was super fit nonetheless – she was to pass me out on several occasions 🙂

We arrived nice and early and got very cool rented Cube bikes from the centre for 40 yoyos. We were joined by another keen mountain biker who had done the Ballyhoura trails before so he was our lead and suggested we take the White trail – just 35km. The bikes were top class, very new, well serviced and well up to the task at hand – I therefore can’t blame the bike on nearly keeling over on some of the hills. I was wrecked after about 20km! Cycling up mountains is tougher than you’d think!

Apart from some steep climbs, the white trail is amazing! Some very fast parts, dark and spooky forests, long wooded boardwalks and fantastic views. The climbs might be tough but the downhill sections are just amazing and make up for the hard work getting up the hills. Speeding down a narrow track avoiding rocks really gets the adrenalin going 🙂

Because the scenery is so spectacular you might be lured into looking around but this is the biggest mistake you’ll make – it will only result in a crash – which will hurt! I came off a few times the worst when the pedal caught a rock and sent me flying! The other thing that will hurt like mad will be your ass! So here is my top-tip for mountain biking – wear shorts with (extra) padding!!

I’ll definitely be going back again – once my ass has recovered!

Iano brought his super-duper GPS watch which produces a map of of the trail.. (very cool). Note the steep climbs!

Cauwill is One

It’s July 2010. Cauwill Technologies is one this month.

12 months ago we had a nifty piece of mobile technology, no customers, no money (except our savings) and no real idea what the future held. Leaving the safe* employment as a researcher in a university was one of the scariest decisions we had to make but it’s been all worth since we spun out the company. That’s not to say there hasn’t been bad days since spinning out – of course there has been! Someone told me recently the longer you are in business and the highs get higher and lows get lower.

Looking back over the year we certainly had some really great days, first customer, getting more paying customers, hiring staff and of course let’s not forget about winning InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition as ‘Best Emerging’ Company!

We have learnt so much over the past 12 months and sitting in UL researching & lecturing seems like a lifetime ago. I think I would find it very hard to go back. I spoke to a mate of mine last weekend (whom I spent countless hours in the UL WAR lab trying to get a testbed to work) about leaving and the challenges/changes it has brought. He was adamant that I needed to leave and it was the best thing to do as it’s open a entirely new world. I couldn’t agree more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The only downside to leaving is the lack of a salary! Startups don’t pay well at all 🙂

So over the past 12 months what have we learnt? Here is a list in no particular order of some of the learnings.

    You have to be a little crazy.
    You need to love what you are doing otherwise you will grow tired of it. You have to give up a lot of things to follow this dream. You will have to be able to make, what seems like, crazy decisions to try better the company. Finally, you need to be able to calculate risk and act on it (it helps here being a little crazy!)

    You need a plan.
    It doesn’t have to be much, but you need a plan! Who are the customers? How many customers? Why do they need your service product? Why would they buy from you and not Joe down the road? How much will they pay for it? How do you get to them? Where do you want the company to be in 3, 5 years? How are you going to get there? How much money do you need? Where will it come from?
    I’m preparing a post about our Seedcorn business plan which may be of interest to people in Ireland.

    Make sure you have a partner.
    I was super lucky. Ian was in the same position/mindset. We worked together in UL for the past 10 years so we knew each very well. Cauwill wouldn’t be where it is right now if either did this alone. It probably wouldn’t have made it to one. Simple as that.

    Don’t ram technology down customers throats!
    We’ve learnt when talking to potential customers the secret is not to talk! Ask questions about their business, their needs, things that are hurting them in terms of time/money. If you have a solution for their pain they will be a lot happier to engage with you.

    Build Relationships & Communicate
    It’s important to go out and meet people. At times it’s hard but it has to be done. If you don’t do this how will be people be made aware of you and your product? Be active on the social networks, go to seminars, open coffees, trade shows, etc. the key is just to get involved. Some of this seems like it will go nowhere, and the majority of it will go nowhere, but on occasions some connections you make can lead to big things down the line. Some of these connections could lead to my next point.

    Build a network of mentors.
    Mentors = friends, colleagues, people in the shared office, maybe elite and trusted customers. You won’t be able to do everything and you’ll need people to talk to on a regular basis. You draw on their experience in business, marketing, PR, sales etc. to help you make better decisions. Note: you don’t want a bunch of yes ‘men’ either.

    Keep on top of things.
    This includes; market research (know what has happened, happening now, might/will happen in the future). Keep all your financial accounts in order from day one. Keep a track of every correspondence with {potential} customers – get a CRM package (onepagecrm, zoho, capsulecrm etc.) in place.

    Don’t spend all your time on development
    Can’t stress this point enough. Don’t spend all your time developing the mother-of-all-products. No-one will use it. You might get lucky but chances are you won’t. Listen to what your customers want and develop to their requirements. Release often and release early. Provide good great customer service and you’ll be on to a winner.

    Out source
    Know your weak areas and out source these tasks to people how can do it better than you.

*Safe; once you have a contract you get paid every month! Getting the contract is another matter altogether!

LEAP Training – Sales

So we are approaching the end of our LEAP training  – how time has flown by!

We had Dermot McConkey in a few weeks back (it’s been busy at Cauwill – so I didn’t get to blog for a while!)

To use Dermot’s phrase

People Don’t Buy Similarity, They Buy Difference

This is true – so true.

The sales training was absolutely top notch. Dermot pitched/sold some of the companies ideas/products and in some cases did a far better job than the promoter. When you hear a couple of completely different products but sold using the same  formulae you begin to understand why some people are (good to) excellent salesmen and others are just not made for it at all. It’s all about finding out the difference you & your product can make for your customer. Most of the time you need to listen – not sell. When you listen to your customer listen carefully for their ‘pain’ then give them the solution to meet their needs.

The two days were immense and I am not going to blog everything about those because it would be impossible for me to convey all the information, advice and great tips Dermot shared with us.

The first day covered the dreaded cold call – he gave the group a script for the cold call – but to be honest it can be used any time you talk to a customer.

If you need some sales training .. head over to his site to get an idea of where he can help and find out where he is giving the next training session.

Marketing and Business Communications

Bryan Marshall (SMS) came in to talk to us on Marketing and Business Communications.

I couldn’t make all of the business communications, but I kinda reckon that both could have been combined together into one day instead of two .

Bryan obviously is very well experienced in the marketing and PR area  – some of his clients are the biggest in the world. He is surprisingly very modest too – which is refreshing & a great attribute.  He dispensed loads of great tips and underlined common sense.

I’ve found that the LEAP training seems to come at the wrong time i.e. you are mad busy with stuff – but what I find with the training is that it gets you to focus for a short while on a single topic (try and push everything else away)  and you come away

One of the exercises was to do a 30 sec pitch – it’s actually very difficult! It takes a while to get your head around the idea. The way I think about it is as follows – You say just enough, in plain and simple English,  to get the person curious enough to ask the next question. It’s all about knowing your audience too. The pitch will therefore change depending on the person you are talking to. It’s a hard one to call – go with your gut!

Another valuable tool in the marketing world is the Press Release.. every one should consist of a Short (7 words) Headline followed by

  • What (is happening)
  • Who (is involved)
  • Where (is it happening)
  • When
  • Why

and then Notes for editor.

Of course when you are releasing the PR you need to ensure is the timing right?, is it newsworthy?,  will it interest the reader?, is your PR clashing with anything major? .. and is it topical?

on that topical note.. It’s Halloween tomorrow! Take it easy this weekend –  avoid zombies (and squirrels).

on that topical note.. It’s Halloween tomorrow! Take it easy this weekend –  avoid zombies (and squirrels)

Bin it!

I switched to Clean Ireland a couple of months ago and their service has been pretty good. but they’ve just gone and got complicated..

I received 2 more bins this week – so that makes 4 in total. The 2 new brown ones, a recycling and general waste one.

The brown bins are interesting.. a little tiny one stays in the house and is lined with a brown paper bag  for organic. When the brown bag is full – you transfer the bag in to the bigger brown bin and put it out with the regular waste bin.

According to Clean Ireland

That up to 40% of what’s in your waste bin (by weight) is actually organic waste?

With a separate collection, it has been proven that householders actually reduce the amount of food waste created, helping to save on waste disposal and SAVE on shopping bills.

  • Food waste collected separately is not subject to landfill tax, so you will save money.
  • Food waste can be composted into a very useful fertiliser for soil conditioning and land reclamation.
  • Food waste can also be processed into a bio-gas – this can be used to generate electricity. See our video below.
  • Using Clean Ireland Recycling’s brown bin service reduces your Carbon Footprint and saves you money.
  • ohh I forgot about the box for glass recycling.. so that’s five.. I just need one more for grass and garden waste and then I’ll have 6… 🙂
    I mean come on – how many bins do we need? I’m all for recycling, but I see the level of bin surveillance constantly rising and weird and whacky laws coming in – like when I put the wrong plastic wrapper into the wrong bin.. I’ll be  fined!

    Presentation Skills

    Earlier I posted a slide about ‘how not to use powerpoint’ – well yesterday as part of the LEAP training we did presentation skills.

    It was very good  – scratch that – it was brilliant. If only we had done it prior to CORD interviews! We got to see ourselves present – very weird but yet very helpful. I have a tendency to ring my hands and speak really fast.. (the talking really fast I already knew – the other mannerisms I was oblivious too!)

    So what was covered? At a very high level. FundamentalsStructure and Delivery of a presentation.

    What it doesn’t cover is any of the tools to visually help your presentation  –  i.e. powerpoint, in fact the  instructor (Ferghal O’Connor) of Synergy BDS doesn’t really like to rely on slides at all. Just a note on Ferghal – he did an absolute fantastic training session. This guy knows his stuff. You often hear “practice what you preach” –  Ferghal did it to perfection.

    We didn’t use PPT at during the days training. It was great not having to use it – but at the same time I’ve never been dependent on slides. I never have  too much text/info in them and  usually use them as prompters for the next thing I need to cover. Also embedding videos into them make life really easy!  For those who use powerpoint – you really need to check out the “Presentation Zen” – no more death by powerpoint please!

    Four bullet points with four words per bullet per ppt is the magic goal. But often unattainable.


    Fundamentals

    Prior to the presentation – do a little self positive talk but not too much or people will think you’re crazy.

    Don’t be too formal and  don’t memorize the presentation – if something goes wrong and you have a mental block you’ll need to react and move on. Tell stories to paint a picture – bring the audience into your world. Telling stories helps you connect with your emotions and this will show the passion you have for what you’re presenting about.  You need to be enthusiastic – if you’re not you will lose the crowd in 20 secs. People  generally have an attention span of 20mins max.  If your presenting for longer, try and break it up.

    Bottom line is..  you need to connect with your audience.. you need to engage them.. interact with them and possibly entertain them.

    While presenting.. breath – it’s amazing how we forget the simplest of things. Prior to the presentation take big deep breaths.. keep the shoulders down! I knew suffering from asthma was going to be good for something… knowing how to do deep core breathing really does help!


    Structure

    All stories/presentations have a start, a middle bit and an end.  Regardless of the presentation it must have an aim.. a purpose.. why are presenting this?  Do you want a sale? Get someone to pilot the technology? To gain Feedback? Secure funding? etc. It must be a clear purpose.

    So you need to think about:

    • WHO you are presenting to (know your audience)
    • What do they want to hear  (a Sell or a Tell)
    • Where you are presenting it (the venue)
    • When (time of day is important)
    • Why am I doing this (Your AIM)
    • How am I going to put my message across

    for every presentation.

    So what goes in the Start bit?

    • The ‘greeting’ : Good afternoon/morning/evening all
    • If comfortable you can add a bit of humour, or a prediction a qoute.. just something to gain a bit interest or curiosity
    • Identify yourself.. My name is Joe and I’m the Director of Cauwill Technologies
    • Now you need to identify the  Aim . I am going to talk to you today in order so that
    • Outline the agenda, identify Topics. First I will talk about … Second … and finally …
    • Let the audience know how long the presentation will be
    • Let the audience know how you’ll be presenting it..I’ll be using some powerpoint and a video to show you the technology in action
    • Let the audience know when you’ll take questions (during or at the end)
    • PAUSE

    Signpost the first topic of the middle bit.

    Interesting enough the structure of the middle bit can come from the most unstructure way possible – mind maps.

    We’ve used mind maps at Cauwill for sometime and are big fans – but we might not have been using them the best way! One of the exercises was to prepare a business presentation. So with the AIM of the presentation in mind we dumped as many words possible on a blank sheet of paper. Brainstorming with a few people to get as many words (even the most bizzarre ) down is probably the best way to use mind maps.

    Once done, take another sheet of paper and extract key points (Topics/parents) you want to convey in the presentation. Link these back to the Aim and associate words from the first sheet as children of the parent word. You can add extra children and sub children if you need. As you start to organise them, you’ll think of more (different) words, add them to the first sheet.

    You may  need to go away and come back later to the mind map and have another go at it – it’s amazing how a second look improves it.

    What you’ve done is in essence is created a skeleton of the middle section with the most important keywords highlighted. Creating a ppt from this is child’s play! Now you can create the stories or the verbal part of the presentation based on the key points under each topic.

    As you transitions from topic to topic.. make sure you signpost them i.e. let your audience know you are moving on .. this way they know what’s coming.

    Once all the topics are covered  signpost the end bit.

    The End bit..

    Recap what you have cover.. link back to your AIM

    • If it’s a Sell presentation
      • The original problem (the customer need/industry challenges).
      • Your solution, their features.
      • The benefits.

    Never ever leave a Sell presentation with out a ‘Call to Action’..

    • So can we organise to meet again?
    • Would you be interested in buying/trying the product?
    • May we contact you in the next day or so for your decision?

    An entire presentation can be thought of as.. Say what your going to say.. Say it.. Say it again.  Which means you only ever need to work on the middle bit!! 2/3’rd of the presentation is automatically done for you!  Now doesn’t that make presentations easier and less daunting??


    Delivery – everyone is different in how they deliver presentations  – there is no magic thing you have to do which gaurentees a successful delivery.  A couple of things will help you deliver it better:

    • Turn off your phone! Empty Pockets.
    • Stand properly, bend the knees a little – don’t be off balance
    • Stand square to the audience
    • Some people don’t know what to do with their hands
      • Don’t put them in pockets
      • Don’t scratch yourself
      • Don’t jingle money, click pens, play with phone in pocket etc.
      • The best thing to do with them is keep them in plain view, relaxed.  Where ? If you are think of a triangle with two of it’s points at your shoulders and the third point below you crotch .. keeping your hands inside this imaginary triangle is very safe and won’t look odd!
      • Find a comfortable ‘parked’ place for hands.. e.g. one hand holding the other hand.
    • For those who like to use your hands (like I do) use your hands to emphasive what you are saying verbally.
      • ‘First thing, Second Thing… ‘
      • We’ve reduced the problem from THIS SIZE … to this size
    • Make eye-contact with the audience (share the love – don’t keep going back to the same pretty girl in the crowd!)
      • For about 90% of the time
      • Eye contact should be 2 or 3 seconds long (don’t freak them out!)
      • if you are uncomfortable making eye contact – look at there nose or mouth.. they will never know the difference (only works 3meters + away from the person!)
    • Use tone to keep the audience listening (Don’t be mono-tone)
    • Speak to the back of the venue
    • Pause to  emphasize a point
    • If you move – move with purpose – and plant yourself again until you move again with purpose (Don’t Random Walk!)
    • If you can, use a bit of humor BUT ONLY MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF!

    Now for the QA bit that scares the bejeebbus out of some people. Thankfully, presenting infront of a bunch of angry academics wanting to take you down a peg or two over the years has toughen me up on this front.

    • Listen until you are sure you understand the question
    • Not always needed but – repeat the question (some people behind the person who asked the question might not have heard.. esp if no PA system in place)
    • Acknowledge and thank the person who asked the question.. even if you want to throw something at them!
    • Answer it to everyone
    • Get the person to acknowledge you’ve answered the question (do the Churchill nodding dog at them while making eye contact)
    • Move to next question
    • In the event of no questions come from the audience –  ask yourself one.. or have someone in the audience.  .. it’s funny .. while during the coffee break I was chatting to Mr ZXGT and they were wondering if this technology is suitable for the directory enquiries sector.. Then answer you own question!
    • If you get the really tough nut – i.e the one that doesn’t want to acknowledge the answer – you’ll need to be tactful and respectful .. ‘with respect to the next speaker/presenter .. is it ok we chat in more detail after this presentation – because I really want to answer you question but we don’t have anymore time..?

    LEAPing!

    So I’ve finished up with the University this week and moved into the EAC based on the LIT campus.  Cauwill  secured a place on LEAP – Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Platform . The office isn’t bad – table, chair, phone, cabinets, internet (works nice and quick) and the best thing about the office is the window! Yes folks you’ve read it right.. a window. 10 years in an office with no windows does strange things to people!!

    Had a great meeting with Graham from the EAC – he is cracking the whip already which is great (Thanks!). So July is going to be a busy month as we have a load of things to get out the door, so the head will be down for a while and no holidays until at least early August!

    So we are LEAPing – who knows what the next couple of years will bring for Cauwill and PinPoints .. but I have a good feeling about it 🙂

    Limerick Open Coffee

    After last months well attended event, LOCC is back again.. where does the month go? I dunno.

    This month, following last months excellent talks, Nora Klaver, Author, Speaker, Executive Coach and Radio Host is talking to us on Thursday.

    To be honest, don’t know much about her so it should be interesting to see what Nora has to say.

    Remember LOCC is  1st Thursday of the month, 11 am in the Absolute Hotel Limerick.

    186-019coffee-posters